In praise of Nature…

Nothing gives one more enthusiasm in the process of writing or researching than true appreciation… Over the last few years I have documented researched and presented data about the flora and fauna of the ‘Kalatope Wildlife Sanctuary’ located in Chamba district of Himachal. As a mark of blog appreciation, I was nominated for ‘The Versatile Blogger’ award by a fellow blogger….. Now it is not exactly the ‘Booker Prize‘ but in blogger’s terms it is a mark of appreciation and I gratefully appreciate this token of praise… though I know that I am not really a blogger… at best a documentator and enthusiast…. and that the beauty of this collection is not really a credit to me but to the vast amount of bio-diversity present in this small area… Soooo… the award of …

goes to…… KALATOPE WILDLIFE SANCTUARY….

But in order to accept this praise (even in proxy) I have to fulfil four conditions….

A) Thank the person who nominated you and link back to them in your post…

So…….

Thank you very much Averil Gomes of  The Cook, The Baker and The Clay Boy Maker for honouring me… 🙂

B) Share 7 things about yourself…

I love…

  1. Fungi
  2. Flowers
  3. Butterflies
  4. Moths
  5. Beetles
  6. Birds
  7. and the forests with all it’s bounties of nature… (and hope they will all be added to this blog…)

C) Pass the award on to 15 bloggers…

Now this is the difficult one… However there is no rule that I have to do it all in one day and I will take my time filling up these fifteen names… Meanwhile the first four of these are…

Space Coast Wildflowers – Wayne Matchett

Hort Log

nature blah blah – Rivu Ghorai

D) Contact the bloggers I have chosen to let them know that they have been selected!…

Thanks to all those who have contributed in collecting the data presented in this blog and I hope I will be able to provide a useful guide for those who visit this sanctuary…

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Checklist of the Butterflies of Kalatope Wildlife Sanctuary

A list of all the butterflies I could photograph during 2011 in the Kalatope Wildlife Sanctuary. There were a few more (not on this list) that I could not photograph, but I had observed them…. maybe in the coming year I would be able to photograph them….

These photographs are listed according to their Families followed by the Latin names and lastly giving their common names.

Clicking on anyone of them leads to the Family photograph gallery page.

Hesperiidae

Hesperiidae, Celaenorrhinus pulomaya, Multispotted Flat

Hesperiidae, Pseudocoladenia dan, Fulvous pied flat

Hesperiidae, Pseudoborbo bevani, Bevan’s Swift

Hesperiidae, Choaspes benjaminii, Indian awlking

Papilionidae

Papilionidae, Byasa polyeuctes, Common Windmill

Papilionidae, Graphium cloanthus, Glassy Bluebottle

Papilionidae, Papilio machaon, Common Yellow Swallowtail

Papilionidae, Papilio bianor polyctor, Common Peacock (male)

Papilionidae, Papilio bianor polyctor, Common Peacock

Papilionidae, Papilio protenor, Spangle

Pieridae

Pieridae, Aporia leucodice, Himalayan Blackvein

Pieridae, Belenois aurota, Pioneer

Pieridae, Colias fieldii, Dark Clouded Yellow

Pieridae, Delias belladonna, Hill Jezebel

Pieridae, Eurema hecabe, Common Grass Yellow

Pieridae, Gonepteryx rhamni, Common Brimstone

Pieridae, Pieris brassicae, Large Cabbage White

Pieridae, Pieris canidia, Indian Cabbage White

Pieridae, Pontia daplidice, Peak White

Lycaenidae

Lycaenidae, Arhopala dodonaea, Pale Himalayan Oakblue

Lycaenidae, Arhopala ganesa, Tailless Bushblue

Lycaenidae, Arhopala rama, Dark Himalayan Oakblue

Lycaenidae, Aricia agestis, Brown Argus

Lycaenidae, Celastrina huegelii, Large Hedge Blue

Lycaenidae, Dodona durga, Common Punch

Lycaenidae, Dodona eugenes, Tailed Punch

Lycaenidae, Euchrysops cnejus, Gram blue

Lycaenidae, Everes argiades, Tailed Cupid

Lycaenidae, Heliophorus androcles, Green Sapphire

Lycaenidae, Heliophorus bakeri, Western Blue Sapphire

Lycaenidae, Heliophorus brahma, Golden sapphire

Lycaenidae, Heliophorus sena, Sorrel Saphire

Lycaenidae, Lampides boeticus, Pea blue

Lycaenidae, Leptotes plinius, Zebra blue

Lycaenidae, Lycaena pavana, White bordered copper

Lycaenidae, Neozephyrus birupa, Fawn hairstreak

Lycaenidae, Prosotas nora, Common Lineblue

Lycaenidae, Rapala nissa, Common Flash

Lycaenidae, Talicada nyseus, Red pierrot

Lycaenidae, Zizeeria karsandra, Dark Grass blue

Lycaenidae, Zizina otis, Lesser Grass Blue

Nymphalidae

Nymphalidae, Aglais cashmirensis, Indian Tortoiseshell

Nymphalidae, Argyreus hyperbius, Indian Fritillary

Nymphalidae, Ariadne merione, Common Castor

Nymphalidae, Athyma opalina, Himalayan Sergent

Nymphalidae, Aulocera saraswati, Striated satyr

Nymphalidae, Aulocera swaha, Common satyr

Nymphalidae, Callerebia annada, Ringed Argus

Nymphalidae, Callerebia nirmala, Common Argus

Nymphalidae, Childrena childreni, Large Silverstripe

Nymphalidae, Cyrestis thyodamas, Common Map

Nymphalidae, Euploea mulciber, Striped Blue Crow

Nymphalidae, Hipparchia parisatis, White-edged rockbrown

Nymphalidae, Junonia almana, Peacock pansy

Nymphalidae, Junonia hierta, Yellow Pansy

Nymphalidae, Junonia iphita, Chocolate Pansy

Nymphalidae, Junonia orithiya, Blue Pansy

Nymphalidae, Kaniska canace, Blue Admiral

Nymphalidae, Lasiommata schakra, Common Wall

Nymphalidae, Lethe rohria, Common Treebrown

Nymphalidae, Lethe sidonis, Common Woodbrown

Nymphalidae, Lethe verma, Straight-Banded Treebrown

Nymphalidae, Libythea lepita, Common Beak

Nymphalidae, Libythea myrrha, Club Beak

Nymphalidae, Melanitis leda, Common evening Brown

Nymphalidae, Neptis mahendra, Himalayan Sailer

Nymphalidae, Neptis sappho, Common glider

Nymphalidae, Parantica sita, Chestnut tiger

Nymphalidae, Phalanta phalantha, Common Leopard

Nymphalidae, Polyura athamas, Common nawab

Nymphalidae, Pseudergolis wedah, Tabby

Nymphalidae, Sephisa dichroa, Western courtier

Nymphalidae, Symbrenthia lilaea, Common Jester

Nymphalidae, Vanessa indica, Indian Red Admiral

Nymphalidae, Vanessa cardui, Painted Lady

Nymphalidae, Ypthima nareda, Large Threering

Nymphalidae, Ypthima nikaea, West Himalayan Five-ring

Nymphalidae, Ypthima sakra, Himalayan Five-ring

Kalatope Sanctuary’s bio-diversity

This blog has primarily been created for showcasing the bio-diversity of the Kalatope Wildlife sanctuary. For those who are not aware of the whereabouts of this nondescript little forested belt.. it is near the touristic town of Dalhousie, Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh in India Continue reading

A wild tale (tail)….

Wishes do come true sometimes….!! Don’t they..??

Recently, I was gifted a new camera… like a dream come true… Good zoom capabilities.. nothing very fancy but at the same time just about right for my amateurish capabilities…

Early next morning, I woke up with a hope of getting some good wildlife photographs. Creeping out of the house silently, I went out to try my luck… suddenly I heard the clicking sound of a ‘Grey Goral‘ a wild goat-antelope (Naemorhedus goral)…..

Usually the Goral (which has very sharp hearing) would be wary and bound off at the slightest sound. Even the sound of a camera 200 metres away is enough to warn it. And as luck would have it .. I saw it as soon as I stepped out of my house… but true to it’s capabilities, it heard my camera’s sound and with a snort it bounded off down the steep slope below our house… with a curse I went around trying to locate it.. but, it was of no use…

I came back dejected and was about to go in the house when I spotted another one bounding down the slope.. quick as a flash I whipped up the camera and took a photo.. my hands were still not very steady with the camera (it is rather heavy for a point-and-shoot) but with the good zooming capabilities I could get a clear shot even at that distance…. I was PLEASED… !! Till now I had never managed to get a good photo of a Goral…

By this time it had bounded down the slope… I sneaked ahead hoping to catch another sight of it when I heard a rustle below me in the bushes… and I saw it there hiding behind the barberry bushes… it was a baby Goral…

Seeing me it ran off towards the other end of the field and I thought that I had lost it… for Gorals are very fast and can jump off a steep slope without a thought and disappear really fast… but then it stopped and turned back as if in answer to my prayers…. for the next ten minutes I stood there mesmerised watching it’s antics where it stomped it’s feet as if to warn me to stay away and tried to appear menacing with its clicking sound (which actually sound like hiccups)… finally we parted ways.. it going to it’s wild domain and me back to my lair…

Thankfully I did manage to remember to take a few photographs.. and as I returned back home.. I did remember that sometimes wishes are answered….

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Out for a walk….

I am not an adventurer or a traveller going to places, where exotic species can be observed.. but every weekend we have made it a habit to go out for a walk into the forest… It does not matter what path we take, for around us is the not so well known ‘Kalatope-Khajjiar Wildlife sanctuary’ and its importance can be gauged by the very fact that the total area of this sanctuary is going to be decreased from 69.7 sq kms to just 11.9 sq kms… The Kalatope sanctuary is primarily a coniferous forest and has a typical vegetation, which is unlike the mixed forests of the same altitude. And this too is fast depleting with the developmental fallouts of road-making, tourism and construction…

But even in this fast diminishing forest there is no lack of variety…. one just needs to be  appreciative, to realise the beauty of nature…. A good example was our routine weekly foray….

A ladybirds conference happening on a twig.. the difference in the number of spots on a ladybird usually signifies a different species (but not the only identification criterion), and it seems, interesting.. As we walked further, we suddenly spied a good sized ‘Morel‘ mushroom, looking carefully I saw that it was infested with tiny worms.. so wisely we left it to spread it’s spores into the soil for the next harvest (which can take up to five years)… As we move ahead, a white flower stood erect in our path, it  seemed unknown (well new for me at least)… quickly whipping out the ol’ camera I snap off a few shots of this little herb.. about 3 inches in height.. looks very similar to some of the other wild flowers to be found this time of the year… I’ll leave the identification for later.. A fungi growing on a piece of dead wood… looks like a jelly fungi, hmmmm… (will identify it back at home).. and the then on another dead tree nearby there is a slime mold.. growing like  fuzzy candy on a piece of stick.. (of course in a miniature form).. this is called ‘Stemonitis sp.’ difficult to identify properly without a microscope (I satisfy myself with the genus)… AHA.. I sight the white flowers of the ‘wild strawberries’, mmmm I could almost taste the season on my lips as I spy the ‘Wild raspberry’ flowers also growing on a shrub nearby…. And then as we move on… something under the dark underside of a fallen tree catches my eye… (by now I am quite good as spotting something unusual on the wood).. which is usually a bug or a fungi.. This one seems to be a ‘Slime mold‘ again.. could be belonging to the same species as I found earlier.. the ‘Stemonitis’ or there was another one ‘Arcyria’.. I feel quite happy at even having remembered this much.. (going by the fact that I almost failed in my high school science exams)…. Walking along the forest tracks, on a mild sunny day, after a few days of rain seems blissful. It is the time when one finds everything from birds, bees to flowers and mushrooms happily blooming and buzzing… And talking of mushrooms, we find one next to the path… a medium sized, brown colour, I take note of it’s surrounding and keep it in my sample box. Later at home I’d keep the cap on a piece of paper, where it would leave it’s spore prints which help in determining it’s species, next to it we find another mushroom growing on a rotten piece of wood… This has to be a ‘Polypore’, since it has pores on it’s underside. Great…!!! As we go further, I felt like chirping with the birds, but before I could let my euphoric yodelling echo in the mountains….. we find another mushroom…. and this one looks simply too good…. shaped like a cup, it is aptly called as the ‘Devil’s urn’…. It has been a fruitful day.. and not finished as yet… The paths are lined with the ‘Gerbera Daisy’ a flower from the ‘Aster’ family, and they look so beautiful…!! Around in the forest, I also sighted the ‘May Apple’ flowering, which I think is called so, be cause around the month of May it will bear large red fruits, and thus the name… The forests are full of wondrous things.. and once my eyes opened to these wonders, it became like a playground…. Now we sight a big silverish growth on a dead Cedar tree… a close examination and a conference before we decided that it was not a nest but a fungi of some kind…. and of course later we found it was a species of ‘slime molds’…. And then we decide to take a rest on the grassy patch in front of us… but here too, a butterfly (an ‘Indian Red Admiral’), decides to come and check if we are worthy place to sit and sun itself.. and sits on my knee contentedly while I click away… and then my attention wonders away to a small lump of white which seems to be moving, examining it closely, we found a small bug carrying it’s food/house (don’t know) on it’s back…. will wonders never cease, I think as we move back towards our home… but even in this last leg of our walk we come across a mushroom colony on a decaying trunk… doing their task of re-cycling the waste in nature.. and for the last time that day I again sit down next to the trunk, photographing what I know to be a species of the Coprinoid mushrooms…

Back home after a whole day in the forest, tired but happy, I set aside the material for research and identification… the walk providing not only breath of fresh air and exercise.. but also the opportunity to study and learn about these life forms co-existing with us on this earth. I know that after this where ever I might live.. I’ll always be aware and looking out for the beauty of nature… be it in desert, mountains, seas… where ever…..

Lichens.. and Fungi.. March

The world of Lichens and fungi is quite fascinating… especially since I know that the species found in these particular parts of Himalayas have not really been recorded…. Makes me feel like an ‘Explorer’, discovering new things… Of course till now I cannot say that I have really discovered anything new since most of what I have found has been recorded somewhere or the other in the world…. But in the field of Fungi especially, the Mycologists are reorganising the taxonomical structure, since the introduction of genome mapping they had to re-structure the whole thing.. and what were till now a part of one family, find themselves assigned to another family together…

Discina, polypores, Phycomyces, Metatrichia, Sarcoscypha, Rhizopogon, Hypoxylon, Lycogala, Myxomycota, Schizophyllum commune, Astraeus, Panellus, Ramalina, Agrocybe, Xylaria, Tramates, Auricularia, Lichens and fungi… will remain just tongue twisters and mysteries till seen in reality for the beauty they possess… (although some of it might require a microscope)… And someday, I may be able to lay my hands on a microscope and be able to precisely list what are the species found here…. Who knows what all we might……

Colours of March….

It has been quite a while since I managed to get in an update on my blog… Firstly, the spring is here and every spare moment is spent in the forests.. secondly as a layman to identify wild flowers is not an easy thing, since I do not know anything about the families of plants and their characteristics and there are no specific field guides available for the areas of Dalhousie or Chamba region. On the whole it is a great learning experience and did make me appreciate the nature around me much more. The medicinal uses of these plants have been given separately on the page of ‘Wildflowers in March‘.

Acknowledgement:

I have done a lot of searching on the internet and of course a lot of help through the members of the Google group ‘Efloraofindia’, especially mentionable are Dr. Gurcharan Singh, Shri Tanay Bose, Shri Pankaj Kumar, Amit Chauhan and the other members of the forum.

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